Texas high school senior Paxton Smith made the move to use her platform to speak out in favor of reproductive rights, and against the "war" on her body being waged in Republican-run states all over the country.
June 2, 2021

The kids keep proving to me that it's gonna be okay. This time, it's in the tradition of brave, intelligent, norm-smashing women from Texas putting themselves in the crosshairs for the sake of reproductive rights.

Paxton Smith graduated from Lake Highlands High School on Sunday, and as valedictorian (with merely a 104.93 average) delivered the commencement address. As reported in DMagazine, Smith had written a speech about media, and its impact on her life and worldview, which school officials had approved. After Gov. Greg Abbott signed the regressive, punitive so-called "Heartbeat" bill a couple of weeks ago, though, Smith decided to go a bit rogue herself.

When her time came to deliver her speech, she'd written an entirely different one from the one officials approved, having nothing to do with media and everything to do with abortion rights. She absolutely skewered the new bill, characterizing it as "a war on my body and a war on my rights," and appealed to the empathy of her listeners.

I have dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Every girl here does. We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our consent or input, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, that if I’m raped, then my hopes and efforts and dreams for myself will no longer be relevant. I hope you can feel how gut-wrenching it is, how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.

There was talk from school officials, apparently, of withholding her diploma for delivering the unapproved speech, but that has not come to pass. When she was asked what else she wanted people to know, she replied, "Well, I would like them to know that they should register to vote for the next election and to stay involved in local elections because those have more power than I think the media gives them credit for.”

Mark my words, this kid will be on Rachel Maddow or Joy Reid's show in the next 24-48 hours.

The kids are, indeed, very much alright. With praise and encouragement like this, how can they not be?

Her speech begins at around 4:35 in the video above.
Read the entire text of the speech here.

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